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Makassar - Manado

View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today we are moving on to the northern part of Sulawesi, flying from Makassar to Manado.


A driver picks us up at 09:30 to take us to Makassar Airport, where we make our way on foot to the Lion Air Customer Service area, which is where, after checking in to our flight, we pick up a wheelchair and porter.

Being the local budget airline, the gate is the furthest away from the check-in and security area (reminiscent of Ryanair in Bristol). Seemingly very fit, the porter pushes the wheelchair at such a speed that David struggles to keep up the pace as he follows on foot.

In complete contrast to the check-in area, which is grubby, dirty, and very run-down, the departure gate is bright, clean, and modern.



When it is time to board, the porter returns and explains, in good English, that the plane is parked a long way away from the gate. He pushes me back to security, down in a lift, and out onto the apron, where a full-sized bus is waiting to take just the two of us to where the plane is parked. This is certainly a new experience for me (although we did get transported by a Mercedes from a plane to the terminal once)!


Although perfectly capable of making my way the short distance from the bus to the plane, the porter insists on pushing me in the wheelchair.

My seat is 28A, but the purser takes one look at my leg brace and insists I sit in C and proceeds to rearrange the other passengers so that the middle seat between me and David is free.


Before we leave the runway, an announcement comes over the tannoy: “You are on flight JT778 to Manado, please check your boarding card to ensure you are on the correct flight”. Another first, but a really good idea.

We have a new departure time of 12:35, a half-hour on from the original time of 12:05, and with further delays, we don’t take off until 13:40. I sleep through most of the one hour and 45 minutes flight, very grateful to have the extra space for my legs (as I am 30+ cms – around a foot – taller than the average Indonesian, there is painfully little wiggle-room for my knees on this plane.


As soon as we land, several passengers get up from their seats, long before the plane has come to a stop and the seatbelt sign has been switched off. I never understand what the rush is, you still can’t go anywhere until the doors are opened and the passengers in front of you have left.


There is no wheelchair waiting for me at the exit door, but I find one at the top of the tunnel. Manado airport is bright and modern, with long corridors, so I am grateful for the transport.

Egi, our new guide, is waiting for us outside. He is the driver as well as guide, and after my initial surprise at his hippy look of long hair, camouflage shorts, and flip-flops, he immediately grows on me. Unlike Nadja in the southern part of Indonesia, he is young (early 30s), laid back but bouncy and enthusiastic, dynamic even.

My first observation is that Manado looks distinctly different from Makassar, with nowhere near as many motorbikes (70% of all vehicles in Makassar are bikes), the buildings are not as tall, and there are no three-wheel taxi bikes, not as many warungs (streetside stalls) or bicycle shops. Unlike Makassar, which is predominately Muslim, Manado is 80% Christian.

Aryaduta Hotel

Checking in is painfully slow, and before we go to the room Egi says: “If the hotel has run out of beer, get them to ring me and I’ll bring you some”. How very sweet and thoughtful.

Reception area and lobby

The room is big and bright, with great views of a brick wall.


The brick wall outside our window

Going nearer the window, we see can see the swimming pool, and beyond.

The pool on the rooftop some floors down

The view beyond does not offer any great vistas, with wasteland, a building site, derelict and abandoned buildings, fires, and what looks like an illegal campsite.

The image on the left below shows the importance of camera angles when taking a photograph.

Website versus reality

Not long after we arrive, there is a knock on the door and a very courteous lady bringing us a “complimentary from the hotel” tray of sweets.


This hotel seems to employ staff who are trained to be over-attentive, with lots of “excuse me, sir”, “sorry ma’am”, “thank you, sir” and lots of bowing and scraping. While it is always nice to be treated as someone special, I find it way over the top and too pretentious.

This is manifested in a phone call some time later while we are both enjoying a little pre-dinner snooze, just to ask “Is everything OK?” Grrr I wanted to reply; “No, you just woke me up to ask me that!”. I don’t of course, I just confirm that “we are both fine, thank you”.


Like so many places elsewhere on the Sulawesi part of this trip, the huge restaurant is completely empty.


Beyond the large dining room is a small Italian Restaurant, which is much more intimate and our style. There is still only us in here, but so what!


The menu features Cuba Libra, the first one since arriving in Indonesia, so everything else this evening is irrelevant.


There are only so many gorengs (fried rice) a girl can eat, so I get very excited about the thought of a pizza. I order pepperoni on mine, whereas David has chicken on his.

My pizza


Having not eaten since breakfast, I tuck in enthusiastically, but can only manage about two-thirds of the pizza.

As we enter the lift, neither of us can remember our room number, and there is nothing on the room card to indicate which room we are staying in. Thankfully we do remember which floor, and once we get there, we recognise the layout and the position of the door – otherwise it would mean one of us would have to return to the reception.

Soon after arriving in the room, I start sneezing constantly, and blowing my nose, feeling incredibly nauseous, followed by three visits to the toilet with the runs in quick succession. I retire to bed with a bucket by the side, just in case.

This trip of a lifetime was arranged by Undiscovered Destinations.


Posted by Grete Howard 13:43 Archived in Indonesia Tagged indonesia airport pizza sulawesi manado wheelchair italian_restaurant makassar delay nauseous lion_air wheelchair_assistance aryaduta_hotel cuba_libre

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love the read and yep .... pepperoni pizza is really the best!

by Ils1976

Thanks Ils, pizza is always welcome when you travel ♥

by Grete Howard

it sure is!

by Ils1976

I like the 'expectations versus reality' comparison!

by ToonSarah

It just shows the power of the camera angle!

by Grete Howard

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